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Following Nicolas Cage's Dracula Casting, His Universal Monsters Movie Has Scored A Shang-Chi Star

Among the many Dracula-related movies currently in development is Renfield, which will focus on the same-named character from Bram Stoker’s original novel. Yesterday it was announced that Nicolas Cage has been cast as pop culture’s most famous vampire in Renfield opposite Nicholas Hoult, who’s been attached to play R.M. Renfield since August. Now word’s come in that this Universal Monsters movie has brought Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings star Awkwafina along for the ride.

Sadly, Deadline didn’t provide any details on who the actress is playing in Renfield, so it’s anyone’s guess at this point how she fits into this cinematic picture. Nevertheless, this adds another big movie to her lineup of upcoming projects following her appearance as Katy in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, the 25th Marvel Cinematic Universe movie. Awkwafina is next set to appear alongside Mahershala Ali in Apple TV+’s Swan Song, and she’s also voicing Scuttle in Disney’s live-action remake of The Little Mermaid.

In the original Dracula novel, R.M. Renfield was a patient in an insane asylum who consumes living creatures in the hopes of obtaining their life force. It’s later revealed that Renfield was a servant of Dracula, who’d been sending him the animals. However, upon meeting Mina Harker, Renfield was overcome by his conscience and attempted to escape his master’s influence, only to ultimately have his neck broken. The character (or loose versions of him) has previously been played by actors like Dwight Frye, Frank Langella, Tom Waits and Peter MacNicol. 

No specific plot details for the Renfield movie have been revealed yet, other than it will be set in the present day rather than be a period piece. Maybe Awkwafina has been brought aboard to play a version of Mina Harker, or, as part of the movie’s creative liberties, maybe she’s playing someone entirely new. Either way, with Awkwafina’s comedic chops, the prospect of Nicolas Cage playing a completely unhinged Dracula and Rick and Morty’s Ryan Ridley writing the script, at this point we can reasonably assume that Renfield will be a humorous Universal Monsters movie rather than a tonally serious offering.

Renfield is based on an original story outline from The Walking Dead and Invincible creator Robert Kirkman, who’s also producing through his Skybound Entertainment banner. The LEGO Batman Movie and The Tomorrow War’s Chris McKay is directing the feature. As already noted, Dracula won’t be lacking for cinematic attention in the coming years, with Eternals’ Chloe Zhao working on an “an original, futuristic, sci-fi Western” story centered on the vampire, Jennifer’s Body’s Karyn Kusama is tackling a faithful adaptation of the original Dracula story (albeit also set in the present day), and the André Øvredal-directed Last Voyage of the Demeter chronicling the journey that brought Dracula to London.

While we wait for more news on what to expect from Renfield, Awkwafina fans can see the actress’ work in Swan Song starting on December 17. If you missed out on seeing Awkwafina in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, or simply want to re-watch it, stream it on Disney+.

Adam Holmes
Adam Holmes

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.